Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Features / Living

December 29, 2013

Recycled Christmas trees: mulch, dunes, habitats

NEW YORK — It’s one of America’s great recycling success stories: Every year, hundreds of thousands of discarded Christmas trees are collected and reused.

Many are picked up curbside by local garbage collection services and turned into mulch. But there are other second acts for Christmas trees, too. They’re placed on beaches to shore up dunes and sunk in lakes as fish habitats. They’ve even been milled into lumber for use in building homes.

How many of the 25 million to 30 million fresh Christmas trees sold each year are recycled is difficult to measure because most recycling programs “are implemented on such a local level,” said National Christmas Tree Association spokesman Rick Dungey. The good news, though, is that tree-recycling efforts are now “ubiquitous” and recycling your tree is “easier than ever.”

This will be the 27th year for Christmas tree recycling in San Francisco, where nearly 600 tons of trees are fed into a giant wood-chipper outside city hall each year and turned to mulch. New York City’s Department of Sanitation collects about 150,000 trees each year and mulches them in a joint program with the parks department. The mulch is used in parks, playing fields and community gardens. Residents lucky enough to have their own urban backyards can take home a bag at “Mulchfest” events held around the city.

New York’s Rockefeller Center is famous for its towering Christmas tree, and for the seventh year in a row, this season’s tree will be donated to Habitat for Humanity. The tradition began when the 2007 Rockefeller Center tree went to build a home in Pascagoula, Miss., for a survivor of Hurricane Katrina.

Lumber from the milled Rock Center tree is marked so that the families know its origin. In some years, families that have benefited from the construction have attended the tree-lighting event in Manhattan.

In Jefferson Parish, a suburb of New Orleans, Christmas trees help prevent marshland erosion. The trees are placed in wooden cribs, in shallow water parallel to the shore, where they absorb the impact of waves.

“It protects the shoreline,” explained Jason Smith, spokesman for the Jefferson Parish Department of Environmental Affairs. “The area behind it is calm, where vegetation can grow.” The trees decompose and must be replaced yearly. The program uses between 10,000 and 30,000 trees a year, and has been in existence since the winter of 1990-91.

Shawnee Mission Park Lake in Shawnee, Kan., is also a final resting place for recycled Christmas trees. About 100 to 150 trees are sunk each year with concrete blocks to provide fish habitat.

Many beaches also use recycled Christmas trees to protect against erosion. Strategically placed, the trees catch sand and are eventually covered by it, becoming part of the dune system.

A number of beaches at the New Jersey shore were built up using Christmas trees after last year’s Superstorm Sandy. Beaches at the Rockaways, in New York City, which were also devastated by Sandy, benefited from a Christmas tree project as well. The Rockaways effort was sponsored by a California wine company, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, an E. & J. Gallo Winery brand. Barefoot Wine has been working with the Surfrider Foundation, which promotes ocean protection, on beach cleanups and restorations for seven years. But the Rockaways program was Barefoot’s first using recycled trees.

Those who prefer artificial Christmas trees usually don’t throw them out after one year. But when the time comes, there’s even a program to recycle them. Polygroup, one of Walmart’s largest suppliers of artificial Christmas trees, sends them — including lights and electric cords— to a recycling center in China where they are shredded and broken down for reuse in other products. The bad news: Consumers must pack and ship the trees back to Polygroup themselves. The good news: You can send in any brand of tree, and you need only ship to Polygroup’s Indiana offices, not to China.

1
Text Only
Features / Living
  • photo.tif On a roll

    For most of us, Corvettes are something we see rolling past in the fast lane. 

    But April 27, there’ll be a chance to get up close and personal when Burleson’s Lost Oak Winery hosts its annual Vines and Vettes show. 

    April 20, 2014 4 Photos

  • PHOTO1.tif The story of Leonard J. “Big Bear” Beal

    This article first appeared in the Sept. 10, 2006, edition of the Times-Review. The late Leonard J. “Big Bear” Beal of Grandview will be remembered with a museum under construction at the Chisholm Trail Outdoor Museum on U.S. 67.

    Bear, who lives near Grandview, 83, showed me around his place. Everything he had in storage was once a part of an old-time cabin museum, stagecoach depot, trading post and Indian village he built and operated in Torrance, Calif.

    April 13, 2014 3 Photos

  • C1.jpg That '70s Marriage

    Τwenty years ago they celebrated in Hawaii. But this go around Cleburne couple Gregory and Lorene DeGroat marked March 11’s momentous milestone in their relationship in a low-key manner.

    March 30, 2014 4 Photos

  • B1.jpg Improving the quality of life through art

    Walking into the main entrance of the old J.N. Long Elementary School, the walls of the main hallway are lined with tables filled with different pieces of art ranging from photographs to watercolor paintings.

    March 23, 2014 5 Photos

  • IMG_4401.JPG Improving the quality of life through art

    Walking into the main entrance of the old J.N. Long Elementary School, the walls of the main hallway are lined with tables filled with different pieces of art ranging from photographs to watercolor paintings.

    March 23, 2014 5 Photos

  • PHOTO.tif Jellystone formula for fun: Just add water

    North Texas Jellystone Camp-Resort in Burleson is hoping to make a splash this spring, when workers complete a $1 million water park expansion to its Pirate’s Cove.

    March 9, 2014 5 Photos

  • photo1 Blowing novelist Grey Stone’s cover

    By page three, the hero of “The Lenora Assignment” has received the Congressional Medal of Honor, accepted a secret mission from the U.S. attorney general and  rescued a ship full of child prostitutes. 

    February 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • Screen shot 2014-02-10 at 8.07.55 AM.png As I write this letter

    Valentine’s Day and a 1984 general delivery letter, posted on the off chance it would reach its intended recipient, loom large in the story of Burleson husband and wife Johnny and Sandra Green.

    February 9, 2014 6 Photos

  • photo.tif We loved them Yeah Yeah Yeah

    It was shot in black and white because the bigwigs at United Artists didn’t think it worth wasting money to film, the Beatles’ first film, 1964’s “A Hard Day’s Night,” in color. It received the green light in 1963, well before anyone in America knew or cared who they were. It should have been a mess, akin to the teen junk of the Elvis and ’50s rock-‘n’-roll films that preceded it.

    February 2, 2014 6 Photos

  • photo 1.tif Fossil Rim promotes education for a younger generation

    If you travel U.S. 67 to Glen Rose, there is a place that is like the African safari and exotic animals roam freely on 1,800 acres of land — Fossil Rim Wildlife Center.

    January 26, 2014 5 Photos

Front page
Latest CTR Videos
Facebook
Front page
Front page
Front page
Front page
Front page
Front page
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page
House Ads
Featured Ads
CTR Sports
Follow us on twitter